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Squatchy
07-13-2015, 01:27 AM
come to a place where you think you can make a pretty good traditional?

SO I have listened to the new radio show a couple of times, both shows. I have especially listened to The Ask Oskaar piece. I have heard it before but it has sunk in more now for me. Being a muscian myself I could relate when Oskaar said you can't solo over a jazz piece untill you have some scales under your belt. Vickey said "you can't hide behind a traditional". I know from playing music that you can even know how to play the right scales over a progression and still not say anything. So,,

I'm just curious how many of you folks feel like you can consistently make a good Traditional?

What have you done differently now that you can count on success, compared to when you were still not as successful?

How many times did you have to try before you felt like you "got there"?

I have made some pretty good stuff and have a few things that are not so great. It makes me wonder how much better the things I have had success with would taste if I was better at the basics!

I'm dedicated to just making traditionals until I feel I can do that well before I go back to all the other things we have available.

Ryan

ostensibly
07-13-2015, 08:57 AM
It took me a couple of years to get a traditional I thought was actually good - a semi-sweet OB. I didn't understand the importance of using good honey at first - I bought a cheap bucket of wildflower initially and none of my batches tasted very good. It wasn't until I bought some better honey that things started to gel for me.

kuri
07-13-2015, 11:01 AM
The only batch that I wouldn't consider doing again is one that got too dry. I've been waiting for a few of years to see if the return of the honey flavor might offset the dryness in a good way. So far it hasn't.

I too have been sticking mostly with traditionals to get a feel for different honeys and different yeasts. The BOMM protocol came at just the right time for me -- it let me get a quick(ish) sense for the difference that different honeys can make. I got to try Goldenrod (++), OB (+), Cherry (+), Alfalfa (/), and Acacia (/) that way, and recently added a Cherry Bochet that I haven't started on yet. With BOMMs on tap I was able to also try a few different yeasts: Premier Cuvee (/), k1v (+), and D47. I'm still waiting on the results of the D47. Should be ready now. I just need to run out of something else first. I haven't yet tried backsweetening, or rather I tried it with the mead that was too dry and didn't really like the results. Instead I've been making higher alcohol meads, in the 14-16% range. That way, even when they go dry there's still plenty of sugar left in them to make them very enjoyable. Most of my meads finish in the high .99x range, and I find that's perfect for me. Premier Cuvee is still dry at that level, but k1v and the BOMM yeast have a clear sweetness still. I have made one 18.2% Cherry blossom mead that is coming up on its first birthday soon. It's sitting on oak right now -- the latest thing for me to play with -- and is starting to taste really good. At 1.020 it is by far the sweetest mead I have made to date.

So I now have a wide range of recipes that I know work, several more that are looking very promising but won't be tapped until they've aged a while longer, and only one that I found merely palatable. No blow-your-socks-off stupendous meads yet (though the 18.2% oaked Cherry might make it there in another year), but several that are well worth repeating.

What has made a difference? I've been making beer for many more years than I've been making mead, so when I started on mead I naturally took over my beer making practices -- excessive sanitization and temperature control being the two keys in my view. I no longer heat my honey or my water, following advice here on Got Mead, but that's about the only change from my beer-making sanitization procedures. That was a change worth making. The honey flavors are a little better, and using tap water directly is much much easier than boiling it and cooling it first, and doesn't seem to invite any infection, contrary to my initial expectations. Improvement now is a matter of matching the right honey, yeast, OG+FG, and amount of oak. And maybe temperature of fermentation. Oak seems to be making the biggest difference among these at the moment, though I only have a few experiments going so far for learning about oak. More will have to follow.

Ironpapa40
07-13-2015, 11:23 AM
I can make a very good traditional IF:
1) I take my time to choose just the right honey
2) I have a few days off work right at the beginning so I can babysit the batch
3) I don't get in a hurry

It took a couple of years to finally figure out all the little things. But it's all the small details that matter.

The thing that helped me most was temperature control without a doubt. I finally realized that a fast and vigorous ferment like everyone talks about just doesn't work for me. Keep it on the low side of the temp range and let it go slow and steady. It only adds a few days to the primary but the results are night and day. Assuming you follow good fermentation practice on everything else of course.

kuri
07-14-2015, 07:15 AM
One more thing I'd add from looking over my notes: OG of 1.093 or lower = not good. OG of 1.097 or higher = good. Above that goodness varies depending on what I'm after.

And I too generally aim to ferment on the low side of a temperature range. I might try to go higher once just to see the effect, but I know that low works well (usually somewhere in the 15-20C range).

Chevette Girl
07-14-2015, 07:38 PM
I've been all over the place in my meadmaking, but one thing that always seems to have turned out is my traditionals. All six of them... I started out using a decent quality honey, nutrients (and later on, energizer), fairly consistent procedures, and I've liked them all. I still don't much care for dry meads (or wines for that matter) but I've liked all my traditionals that have finished sweet, or at least not quite dry.

There's definitely something to be said for trying everything all the time, but definitely there is also wisdom in settling down for a while and getting good consistent results in one thing before going on to other things.

Maylar
07-17-2015, 11:59 AM
Umm... being a new bee... what exactly is a traditional?

curgoth
07-17-2015, 01:18 PM
A traditional is a mead with no spices, fruit, vegetables or herbs added. So just straight up honey wine. Another way to think of it is that a traditional is a mead that doesn't fit into any of the subcategories like metheglin (spices and herbs added) or melomel (fruit added).

Not to be confused with a show mead, which is a traditional made with nothing but honey, yeast and water. All show meads are traditionals, but not all traditionals are show meads, since a trad can use nutrient blends like Fermaid K and DAP.